Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Movie Project: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Robin of Locksley returns to England from the Crusades to find his father murdered by the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is ambitiously seizing power while King Richard is away. Robin and Azeem, a Moorish warrior, join a band of merry men in Sherwood Forest, and Robin becomes their leader and motivates them to fight for their freedom. After the Sheriff kidnaps Robin's beloved Maid Marian and plans to publicly execute several of the freedom fighters, Robin and his small remaining crew infiltrate the Sheriff's castle.

Memorable Quote:
That's it, then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans. No more merciful beheadings. And call off Christmas.  ~Sheriff of Nottingham

The soundtrack is spectacular, from the triumphant main title to the slower ballads. I'm rather indifferent to Bryan Adams' Everything I Do song, which was written for this movie. If it comes on the radio, I don't necessarily turn it off, but I don't necessarily keep it on either. But when you strip everything away (e.g. Bryan's singing [sorry Bryan], the guitar, the drums), you're left with a beautiful melody that really resonates, such as in the scene where Marian is rowing away from Robin in the fog.

I could have done without the witch, who was too weird for me. The version I just watched was the Director's Cut which includes a bizarre scene where the witch reveals to the Sheriff that she's actually his mother -- they were wise to cut that from the original.

Most interesting piece of IMDB trivia:
A half-hour behind-the-scenes documentary of the film was hosted by Pierce Brosnan, although he did not star in the movie.

Pierce Brosnan is one of my favorite actors, and it's funny to me that he agreed to do this -- even if it's before he was a big movie star, he was still Remington Steele. I found a Youtube video of the documentary and watched the first few minutes, and Brosnan's passionate intensity is amusing to say the least.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Strong opening where Robin off on the Crusades, though I do wonder how he was able to so easily pull his hand out from under the falling sword considering his hand was supposedly strapped to a rock. 
  • Robin's father is played by Brian Blessed, who took a turn in MacGyver: Lost Treasure of Atlantis
  • Alan Rickman = fantastic villain.
  • Like Brosnan, Kevin Costner is very high up there on my favorite movie actor list, and I love his performance here -- he plays Robin with a great combination of charm, gentleness, and swagger. Apparently he took some heat in many corners for his lack of a British accent. Absolute tosh, I say. His lack of an accent doesn't hamper the movie in any way for me, and it's better to not do the accent than to do a bad one. Plus, how do we even know what people talked like back in the 1100s?
    • In fact, Costner and I are backed up by this satisfying piece of IMDB trivia: Kevin Costner got a lot of stick for his use of his natural American accent, however at this time in history American and English accents hadn't diverged. The rhotic accent we hear from Costner and Slater was in fact likely to be closer to the way people spoke at the time. Non-rhotic accents emerged in England much later as a way for a new working class to differentiate themselves, and that later became more common throughout the United Kingdom and is now recognized as the English accent.  Boom. 
  • Clever little twist where it's actually Marian in the knight's costume fighting Robin, but it does seem like she's really trying to stab him. Her character arc is reminiscent of Nikki Carpenter in how she starts out as a bad-ass but by the end of the movie, she's a helpless damsel in distress resolved to screaming and watching from the sidelines as Robin battles Nottingham.
  • Robin and Little John get some good licks in during their stick fight in the river -- was there a concussion protocol back then?
  • One of my favorite moments in the movie: Robin distracting the young boy when he's firing an arrow to teach him a lesson about distraction, but then Marian turns the tables on him and gets him to miss badly while blowing in his ear. The whole scene is great, and it's especially cool to see the target from Robin's viewpoint and how the bullseye gets blurry as Robin focuses on it. 
  • The big battle in the forest ends with Nottingham's large army firing flaming arrows into the treehouses. I don't see how anyone of the foresters got out of that alive -- surely Nottingham would have sent his men in to finish off any survivors. The treehouse community is amazing, by the way -- what a fun place that would have been to hang out with its bridges, rope ladders, rope swings, etc. Too bad it burned down. 
  • I haven't seen many other movies with Christian Slater (in fact, I can't think of a single one at the moment), but I like him here, and his scene where he reveals his true relationship with Robin is excellent.
  • Fun fact: the Celt leader who Nottingham recruits is played by Pat Roach, famous (to me, anyway) for his villainous roles in the first two Indiana Jones movies.
  • Hard to believe that this movie got a PG rating. I remember seeing it in the theater, so I would have been 10 years old at the time. In retrospect, there was probably too much violence for a kid my age, not to mention the ending where Nottingham tries to rape Maid Marian.
  • For some reason, I have a vague association between this movie and Cleo Rocks. I feel like maybe I went to see the movie during the day and then watched Cleo Rocks in the evening.
  • Great surprise cameo at the end from Sean Connery -- they couldn't have picked anyone better for that. 

Final Analysis:
Awesome movie! Even better than I remembered. I had seen it several times as a kid and at least once as an adult, so I knew generally what happened, but it wasn't a movie I was intimately familiar with. It's my kind of movie -- lots of adventure but with a dash of fun and doesn't take itself too seriously. I'm giving this an Outstanding (3rd tier) rating. There are several other Costner movies that I have on my list, so we'll be seeing quite a bit of him in The Movie Project. 


  1. I've never seen the movie. I know the timeline comparison of the two period pieces is not identical, but where would you rate this movie in comparison to "Good Knight, MacGyver"?

    1. Hard to compare this to MacGyver since this is a big-budget Hollywood movie with superior production value, but you won't get me to say anything untoward about Good Knight MacGyver!

  2. Christian Slater has a very small shadowy part in Star Trek VI (he's literally in the shadows) - and he's been in several other things. Most notably of late, Mr. Robot (which I don't care for, but it's popular).

    I like this movie. Rickman is made of win! And, it gets a PG b/c it doesn't have a lot of blood or swearing (and possibly not a lot of ppl straight up being killed?). And the MPAA ratings board seems to get progressively MORE conservative as time goes by.

    And since this movie came out in 1991 and isn't quite as gory, violent, or adult as "Gremlins" or "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (from 1983/4 just before PG-13 was intro'd), that's probably why it stayed in the PG realm. Also - money. I think the studio is allowed to offer a 'suggested' rating (the one they want so they can rake in all that sweet sweet cash), and if this movie gets a PG-13, that's fewer butts in seats b/c ppl won't bring their kids. So, there could've been other things that weren't in here that were cut so the MPAA would give it a PG instead of PG-13. But - I really think the lack of swearing kept the rating lower. Bad words are WAY worse than violence - according to the MPAA.

    1. According to the IMDB trivia: "Retired former head of the British Board of Film Classification James Ferman said that passing this movie as a PG was his only regret over his time in office."

      In the cut that I just watched, the only swear is when Slater drops an ad-libbed f-bomb after Robin and Azeem catapult over the wall, and I thought, "Did I just hear that right?" Apparently it was cut out of the British version but was left in the US version.

    2. The f-bomb is definitely there in the US version and it's hilarious the first time you hear it b/c it's unexpected.

      And, the movie maybe really deserved a PG-13, but, compared to the movies given a PG before PG-13 existed, RH:PoT is tame. I'm thinking of "The Goonies" and the 2 i mentioned above. "The Goonies" is FULL of swear words - said by kids - and I saw that as a kid in the theater. (Tho, it does lack f-bombs.)